Let's admit it. We can't live without links; we can't compete out there without increasing awareness of our website in our industry. We can't even rank pretty well on our target keywords without quality signals such as link, pointing to our webpages. Simply, links are something we can't ignore and something we can't abuse either because probably, it can shake a website upside down and turn a wonderful dream into a nightmare.
Over the past couple of years, link building has never been easy. It keeps on getting harder and harder as Google introduces something new to the SEO community. We can't deny it because it's pretty popular to the point where even a business owner who has no enough knowledge about search optimization knows about Penguin, Panda, EMD, the decay of guest blogging and so on.
While there are so many ways that we can do to perform quality link building to a website, it's not always easy for everyone to build links that will work and help their way up to the top. In this article, I'll share some ideas how to do quality link building and for the sake of this tutorial, let's use running shoes as our niche.
Before you conduct link building, you must know what website or blogs you should aim to get a link from. You can't just get a link from a website that sells shoes because the website is highly related to yours. There are some factors that you have to consider before deciding to get a link from a running shoes website.
You need to consider the goals of your running shoes website if it is appropriate to get a link from any running shoes website you'll find online. Such as, you want to get a link from a website that will benefit you in the long run and not just for the sake of links.
Alternatively, consider asking yourself the following questioner
- Does this website target the same geographic location as yours - If your website is targeting Canada running shoes buyers, would you like to link from a website that target Australia website?
- Does this website get decent organic traffic from search - One main reason you're linking to other website is to attract targeted traffic from them. If your target website doesn’t get organic traffic, you won't see any benefit from the other website.
- What type of running shoes they offer? (For men only, women only or both - As part of audience targeting, if you're selling shoes to men, would you like getting women visitors?
- Does this website have a good reputation in your industry - As part of your link building campaign, you only want to engage with quality websites that are recognized by people in your industry.
Audience targeting in link building should not be set aside. You may not be expecting a decent amount of traffic from other websites but you can't deny the fact that they do have what you need, which is audience/traffic. You can also tap other industries that are highly related to your industry such as (sports blog or marathon blog) as they both have a potential to drive relevant traffic to your website.
Assuming that you already know your target audience, you’ll now have to find the websites that will help you increase and strengthen your visibility and brand presence.
Finding your prospects
Finding prospect websites you can link from is not easy as it sounds. While there are link builders know the drill already, it's a lot harder for starters. Luckily, there are ways to get this done and it's a lot easier to accomplish. I'll share some tips that you can implement, just follow the steps below:
If you are just starting up link building to your website, being able to be seen on other websites in your industry is really crucial. You will need their authority and popularity in order to build awareness for your website. Since they are authority websites, you can most likely earn authority to your website.
In this section, we will find guest blogging opportunities.
Step 1. Use operator search to filter the results in Google - There are various "operator search" that you can use to minimize the results in Google, you just have to know how to use them. But for the sake of this tutorial, i'll share one way.
Use site:.ca inurl:write-for-us "running"
Step 2. Pull all information you need from Google - In this step, you will need a MOZ plugin to simplify the process. So if you don't have MOZbar, just get download from Google playstore and activate it before you do a search.
The search we used above is simply telling Google that you only need running shoes websites with extensions .ca (Canada) and are accepting guest bloggers (write for us)
Step 3. Download the results from Mozbar tool that you just installed in step 1. - This will download a file in .csv format with the information you need such as DA, PA etc.
Step 4. Delete unnecessary information you don't need and your done.
There are other ways you can do to find prospects other than guest blogging opportunities. You can use non-linking brand mention, resource pages linking etc.
Qualifying your prospects
Assuming that you have collected all your prospect websites, you can start to assess them if they are qualified, over qualified or not qualified according to your needs. To do this, you will have to inspect your prospect websites inside and outside to make sure they will not harm your website.
1. Check Domain Authority
First things first, you need to know if your prospect websites have a good decent score of authority. You can check a website authority through MOZbar extension for chrome, just turn it on and it will show you the authority of a website from 0 to 100. Normally, you would limit yourself at least minimum of DA 30, because below 30, the authority you can get from those websites won't be helpful enough to help you rank.
2. Website Update Frequency
Normally, you would want to get a link from websites that are actively managed. This gives a positive signal to search engines that your prospect websites are not forgotten. Normally, you can see an update through their articles, news or blog posts. So if you see their last update about 2 months old, they are probably not active as they should be.
3. Website Extension
Avoiding international country targeted domain is ideal if your website does not target international audience. So if your website targets Canada, your most referring domain would be .ca not .co.uk, .com.au, .com.ph
4. Volume of Traffic
Typically, you wouldn't want to get a link from website that don't get organic traffic or has had a downfall of traffic and never recovered. In order for your link building to be quality enough, link from websites that are currently receiving traffic from search. You can use SEMrush to see the organic traffic trends for your prospect.
5. Ranking Keywords
Similar to volume of traffic, you would only want to link from a website that have ranking keywords (partial, exact or semantic keywords). This will definitely give you an advantage to rank as well as your prospect websites are already ranking.
6. Sponsorship and Advertisement
Everyone is aware that Google hates websites that sell links. If you see a section on your prospect websites about sponsorship and advertisement that pass authority to their websites, that's definitely something you have to avoid if you want to keep your website clean.
7. Anchor text usage
Since the release of Google Penguin, anchor text profile has become very important in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Just by looking at anchor text profile of a website, you can already tell if it is manipulating their ranking by exhausting an exact match keyword or getting attacked by negative SEO. So if you see a website with a nasty anchor txt profile, that’s one website, you have to avoid.
8. Blog networks
Identifying blog network for someone new to link building can be quite hard to distinguish. However, there are some ways that you can do in order to figure them out which include the following:
Referring domain - one easy way to identify if a website is part of blog network is to analyze its referring domain. By doing this, you can easily tell if a suspicious website is shadily linking to other websites.
Email address - another way to find out if a blog is part of blog network is through their email address. Normally, blog owners use one email address to two or three blogs in different industry. And they also link together
WHOis info - who is information, should be displayed public. If a suspicious website has chosen to set its information to private, forget about it.
9. Keyword cannibalism
Normally, site owners always wish to rank faster in search engines for their target keywords. Hence, this often leads them to overuse their target keywords as anchor text in footer or sidebar section with do-follow link. If you see a website cannibalizing itself with keywords, forget about it.
10. Trust flow
By definition, citation flow is a number of how trustworthy a page is based on how trustworthy pages tend to link to relevant pages. So if your prospect website tends to have below 20 trust flow, it’s probably not going to help you a lot in terms of ranking. So make sure that you’d go about 30 over 100.
11. Citation Flow
By definition, citation flow is a number of predicting how influential a URL based on how many pages links to it. Hence, the more links your prospect website has in terms of citation, the better. So you’d probably go to citation flow of over 30 over 100.
Contacting your prospects
Assuming that you have already done your research and filtered the websites according to your metrics in terms of quality, you should be prepared and ready to contact your prospects via email. Initially, you’ll need their contact name and email address in order to get in touch with the right person. You can normally see contact information you need on about or contact page as some website owners feel comfortable to write it down and give it away.
However, if you can’t find those information easily, don’t speed too much time looking for it. Using a contact form will do if you don’t have any options left.
The next thing you need to do is write an email that won’t take much of their time to read. Make it short, simple and straightforward.
Here’s one example for guest blogging outreach:
I’ve been reading your bog for quite some time now. I enjoy reading your articles about “blog niche”. I was wondering though if I could write an article about the same “blog niche”.
Let me know if you’re interested.
BTW I also run my own blog so if you have time, you can check it out.
The key here is to be straight to the point. They don’t have all the time to read an email from someone they don’t know so it’s easier to get their attention from the very start. While may not reply to your emails due to their busy schedule, you can still send them a follow up email after a few days of your initial email outreach.
Pro tip: You can spot any social activities of your prospects to see if they are online, then that will be the best time for you to engage with them.
Link building is not a joke. It’s not a game we can play with anytime we want. It’s undeniably hard, no doubt about that, that’s the way it is. So let’s not waste our time and effort creating spam links and hope to rank after a period of time. Any actions that tend to manipulate a website ranking in organic search in Google for certain set of keywords will eventually be pulled down to zero visibility in search users. I know it takes some time to assess a website in terms of quality, it’s worth the time doing so.